All posts tagged: home automation

WeMo, the smart switch

Let me get straight to it. I love the Belkin WeMo switch. This little smartie is a wifi enabled switch that allows you to turn on or off electronic devices. And as simple as its description is, so is it’s usage. Plug the switch into the power outlet and connect the device – the tv, the heater, fan & what have you, to the switch. Then install the WeMo app (android or iOS) to control the electronic device using the app over wifi or mobile network. The simplest function available is to turn device ON or OFF but beyond this, it is also possible to create additional rules to turn devices ON or OFF automatically following certain conditions. So you can start getting creative. I’ve found this specially useful to control devices that need running overnight. We’ve used this together with fan, night lamp, light in Oscar’s room, and recently to control the heater & vapourizer for bub. Basically, we have both the heater + vapourizer connected to the same WeMo switch via a multiplug and …

Experimenting with Home Assistant

The home automation side of our world seems to be a bit quiet at the moment. But not really. There are things “cooking” in SS’s head right now. Usually we talk about what he is planning on but lately with my pregnancy and the new bub, we have hardly had time to talk anything other than nappies, poos, sleep, settling etc. Anyways, I thought I should update a little on what is happening. SS is trying something new. Yes, we are experimenting. Yet Again. This time SS is trying out a new home automation software called Home Assistant. This will essentially replace OpenHAB that we are currently using. OpenHAB has been working perfectly fine, as far as I know. But I it is the curiosity in SS to try something new –  basically to code in Python – that has let to trialling out Home Assistant. Okay, let me correct that. We are past the trialling phase. We are definitely moving to Home Assistant. I will perhaps put up a post on his comparison between the two systems, …

Fibaro System - Motion Sensor

Sensing things

Another update on getting our home more smarter – We can now detect “presence” – for real! Nope, we have not become ghostbusters (it would be pretty interesting if we did though), so let me explain. We have basically installed sensors in the hallway and living room. In the hallway ceiling we have fit in the AEOTEC Multisensor. It is a powered by mains electricity (via a mini USB connector) so we had to get an electrician to do this. In the living room ceiling corner, we have mounted the Fibaro Motion Sensor. This one however is battery powered. And it literally only needed to be glued into place. Super easy to install. They sense motion: Both of these sensors are able to detect motion. And it feeds that info back to the ‘home controller’ device, and then on to our phones apps via the openHAB software. This means that via the openHAB app on our mobile devices, we can see if there was “someone” at home. And I just learnt that detecting presence by sensing motion is called the Wasp In a Box technique …

Testing the wired Z-Wave connection with the USB Home Controller device

And at the end of that long day, I was saying “All Lights Off”

It was the day. The day to wire in the Z-Wave devices on the switches and test that the openHAB software was able control the switches. The tests had been done. And this was the real deal. The devices had been purchased. The instructions had been revised several times. The circuitry had been discussed with the electricians several times. All the necessary doubts had been cleared. The softwares had been tried and tested. And yet when it came to the day – Of Course, we had problems. But glad to say, this story had a good ending and lessons learnt from all the problems we faced. Here’s a visual capture of the day. And at the end of that long day, I was saying “All Lights Off” to turn off all the house lights. Our brother still does not understand why we need to use our mobile phones or voice commands to control the switches. And he also does not understand our excitement. So over to you…Does the idea of home automation excite you? Or is it …

Testing the waters with openHAB

Nerd Alert. If you are not into technology, you will find this boring. You have been warned! The Z-wave switches are being installed today and SS has been working throughout the week trying to ensure that openHAB has been installed ready to be configured. SS has been testing the waters in writing the rules for openHAB and he has been successful so far in automating a lamp via a WEMO switch. I was thrilled! Let me describe his setup so far. Firstly, everything is not going as planned. SS planned to have openHAB hosted on our ASUSTOR NAS server and use the Aeotec Z-Stick USB as the controller. But on the limited version of the Linux OS on NAS, installing the driver is proving to be a problem. Poor SS. He is still waiting on ASUSTOR to respond to his query. So a temporary solution while SS figures this out, is to use Raspberry Pi instead of NAS. I am told the USB Z-Stick works like a charm on this. And that it was easy …

Getting our geek on!

Well, Well, Well – look what we have in the mail – the z-wave microswitches for our lighting automation project! Nerd Alert! Let me explain a little about what these things are for and what they do – in non geeky terms. Again on a side note, there are various types of ‘home controllers’. You can also get ones that are stand alone devices with its own processor that can connect to internet, install the necessary apps etc. But SS, opted to use USB controller because he wanted to see whether he could make more use of his linux based NAS device – which is currently our “media server” (There should be a post on this. SS does some cool things), and run the openHAB software (and there should be a post on this too. it will be particularly interesting to the tech-heads) , which typically requires Java, off it. He also just likes to do things out of the norm. Crazy dude. By the way, these devices are certainly not cheap. Here is where we purchased them …

Because its too hard to press that damn switch…

SS has been raving about replacing our existing switches with “Z-Wave microswitches” ever since we decided that the lighting in our home needs to change. These microswitches are basically smarter switches, in that it works on the Z-Wave wireless technology and in working together with a certain “Home Controller”, allows for lighting to be automated. It sounds too geeky but I am pretty much excited about this along with SS. Imagine being able to control your lights at home via mobile phone or tablet – from the office. Imagine, the lights automatically dimming down when you settle in to watch a movie! And if that imagination does not excite you then just believe me that it is just “too hard” to press that damn switch 😉 And automating the lighting is really just the start. This technology can “smarten” your locks, windows, doors, cameras, air conditioner and the list goes on. Some of the uses could be a life saver – how about receiving a text message alerting you that someone has broken into the house? Some uses are of great convenience – picture coming to an automatically …

Smarter Power

I am telling you… we are getting smarter. Na, its neither my hubby nor me … I am talking about our home. Mr Nerd, has installed this really cool device that is smart enough to power off all of our entertainment system when they are not in use (it basically checks if TV is in use). In fact, if it “senses” no activity in the room, it will power off too – of course with a warning first. This can be a bit annoying when you are physically glued to the couch watching a movie and this smarty pants sends a warning that it wants to turn the TV off. Hey and did I mention, I can simply use my remote to restore power and turn the TV on too 😉 Unfortunately, while our home is becoming more smart, its possible we are becoming more lazy. Oh well… Can you believe it, we bought on eBay for just $19.95 http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/111422785519?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649 And, its super easy to install. No Really, it is. Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU9aSFpksJE